Sunday afternoon marked the start of the 77th racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The matinee card was highlighted by a co-feature with the $12,000 Open Trot and the equally pursed Open Pace featured. The Amanda Facin-trained Ulster (Glidemaster) kicked off his 2018 campaign just like he ended his ’17 season, with a win in the Open Trot. In fact, Ulster ended last year on a three race win streak, including successive victories in the trotting feature. On Sunday, driver Jay Randall sat patiently with Ulster before making his move around the final turn with the seven year old highstepper. Ulster came on to win in 1:57.1 at odds of 7-2 as his streak move to four. The co-featured Open Pace went to Do Over Hanover (Western Ideal), who powered past his rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:54 with Billy Dobson in the sulky. The Rene Allard-trained Do Over Hanover was a winning machine in 2017 when he prevailed 15 times in 29 starts and already has a pair of victories in ’18 after scoring in January at Yonkers. The afternoon card was one of four matinee programs to be contested in February at the Spa with a Monday President’s Day card of eleven races on tap.
Live racing continues on Monday with a 12:15pm start to the matinee program.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino